"Putting a Face" on Statewide Issues

February 16, 2018

In strategy meetings and conversations with our team of dedicated lobbyists, we often say, “Let’s put a face on this issue.” As former reporters and communicators, we know the importance of making an issue relatable to not only tell a story but to increase buy-in from legislators, leaders and communities.

Last session we “put a face” on the popular Georgia Beer Bill (Senate Bill 85) by highlighting the economic impact on cities if this bill passed. During this current session, our first opportunity to tell the stories of our members was with House Bill 61, the Internet Sales Tax Parity bill. Introduced by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), this bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee last week and is now awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee. The bill seeks to require "delivery retailers" that have gross revenues in excess of $250,000 or have 200 or more retail sales in the state to collect and remit sales and use taxes. The bill also outlines the procedure for remission and penalties for non-compliance.

Most recently, we introduced our audience and legislators of the Senate Finance Committee to the power local businesses and the unfair playing field they face against online retailers. We captured the story and issues faced firsthand by small business owner and community servant, Julie Smith, owner of Cycle Therapy. She shared how she spends her time coaching and hand-holding customers through their bike searches, only for them to leave her store and buy the same exact bike online to avoid paying sales taxes. Special thanks to the city of Rome for helping us tell this story.
This is an example of how we localized a statewide issue, and how to use people and businesses to help you do the same around issues important to your audience.

FYI: On the national level, in January the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether to let states require online retailers to collect billions of dollars in sales tax, taking up South Dakota’s dispute with three e-commerce companies. This measure is important for leveling the playing field for Main Street merchants, who are often involved in and support the communities where they operate. The court is likely to decide the case by the end of June, when its current term ends. Read more.

Amy Henderson: ahenderson@gacities.com; Cell: 404-387-0624, Twitter: @amyh_gma
Kelli Bennett: kbennett@gacities.com.; Cell: 404-796-5508, Twitter: @KelliB_GMA
GMA on Twitter: @gacities

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